Heritage Resources Management (HERM) 322

Heritage Collections (Revision 3)

HERM 322

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Humanities

Prerequisite: None

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

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The activities of museums, archives, and many historic places are built primarily around collections of material objects. This course discusses the management of heritage in its material manifestations in collections, primarily within museum and archival collections.

Collections cannot endure without care and management. HERM 322 deals with the acquisition, documentation, storage, and preservation of collections. Attention is also given to discarding materials from collections and issues surrounding access to collections. These activities require an understanding of how and why collections are formed, why an object is significant and worth keeping, how a collection is documented and organized, and the balance that needs to be struck between using and conserving the materials in a collection.

As noted above, conservation of collections is discussed in this course, but students should be aware that a more specialized course, HERM 339: Conservation, is available for those requiring a more in-depth study of conservation of collections.

Learning Outcomes

HERM 322 introduces formative issues and practices in heritage collections management. After completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Discuss current methods of and rationales for collecting and collection management in a range of heritage institutions.
  2. Identify and describe some of the important theoretical and applied issues in collections management in contemporary heritage institutions.
  3. Apply their knowledge of methods and theory for collecting, storing, documenting, and conserving heritage collections.


Part I: Understanding Collections

  • Unit 1: Heritage Collections: The Historical Legacy
  • Unit 2: Museum Collections and Conciliation
  • Unit 3: Collection Types and Uses
  • Unit 4: Archival Collections

Part II Methodologies of Collections Management

  • Unit 5: The Process: Collecting and Documenting
  • Unit 6: The Process: Managing Collections Data
  • Unit 7: The Process: Collections Care
  • Unit 8: Managing Collections: Rationalizing and Deaccessioning
  • Unit 9: Access, Collaboration, and Repatriation


To receive credit for HERM 322, you must complete and submit all of the assignments, and achieve an overall grade of at least D (50 percent) for the course.

You will be evaluated on your understanding of the concepts presented in the course and on your ability to apply those concepts. Your final grade in the course will be based on the marks achieved for the following activities.

Activity Weighting
Assignment 1: Reflection 15%
Assignment 2: Summary Report 15%
Assignment 3: Collection Proposal 30%
Assignment 4: Research Essay 40%
Total 100%

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials

Textbook/Resource Books

Willie, Crystal, ed. Standard Practices Handbook for Museums, 3rd ed. Edmonton: Alberta Museums Association, 2014.

Important note: The Standard Practices Handbook is used in other courses in the Heritage Resources Management Program. You must keep your copy of this book if you intend to take other courses in the program. Conversely, if you have already taken HERM 301 or HERM 501, you will have received this book in the course package for that course and it will not be included in the HERM 322 course package.

Other Materials

All other materials are available online.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

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Opened in Revision 3, December 11, 2020.